Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Soft Infrastructure: Recalibrating Aesthetics, Economies, And Urban Epistemologies

9 November, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm SAST

The African Academy for Urban Diversity; a joint initiative of the African Centre for Migration & Society; the African Centre for Cities; and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity invites you to a special public lecture by Dr Mpho Matsipa (Wits City Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg).

A city like Johannesburg offers a glimpse into how immigration, black female sexuality and shifts in urban retail economies provide important economic and cultural resources to urban residents and users. By exploring black cultural practices, like braiding, as both ontology and epistemology, the lecture will explore how such practices recalibrate local economies, infrastructures, and aesthetic codes, and thus might co-constitute emergent urban identities and a way of knowing the city. The intimate, networked, and fractal nature of black hair braiding spaces disrupts the rigid colonial spatial orders of the city and its architecture.

However, can such soft infrastructures sufficiently disrupt the grand narrative of African cities in ‘crisis’, while also disrupting colonial and colonizing cartographies of African urban environment?


Dr Mpho Matsipa is a researcher at the Wits City Institute. After completing her professional degree in Architecture at the University of Cape Town, with a distinction in design, Mpho was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and later, a Carnegie Grant as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. Her PhD in Architecture, from the University of California, Berkeley, is titled The Order of Appearances explored the entangled geographies of urban informality, urban redevelopment and the politics of race, gender and aesthetics in Johannesburg’s inner city. Mpho has written critical essays and reviews on public art, culture and space for Art South Africa, the Architectural Review and Thesis 11 (forthcoming).

Mpho has worked as an architect and she has been shortlisted in two prestigious national design competitions. She has curated several exhibitions, including of the South Africa Pavilion at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2008).She has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture and associate research scholar at Columbia GSAPP and Curator of Studio-X Johannesburg –  an experimental public platform on architecture and the city sponsored by Columbia University. She is currently co-curating a pan-African architecture exhibition at the Architecture Museum in Munich titled “African Mobilities: This is not a Refugee Camp Exhibition”, that will open in April 2018.

For more information and to RSVP: info@migration.org.za

Date:    Thursday 9 November 2017

Time:    16:00 to 17:30

Venue:  Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room, South West Engineering Building, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand


9 November, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm SAST
Event Category:
Event Tags:


Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room, South West Engineering Building, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa + Google Map
View Venue Website